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Diamond v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

May 3, 2018

LESLEY ESTHER DIAMOND, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the County Criminal Court at Law No. 8 Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2112570

          Panel consists of Justices Jamison, Busby, and Donovan.

          OPINION

          Martha Hill Jamison Justice

         Appellant Lesley Esther Diamond was convicted of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. She filed an application for writ of habeas corpus, in which she alleged that the State suppressed favorable evidence in violation of her due process rights. After a hearing, the habeas court denied the application. On appeal, appellant contends in one issue that the habeas court erred in concluding that the undisclosed evidence was not favorable to the defense or material to the jury's guilty verdict under Brady v. Maryland.[1] Concluding that the undisclosed evidence was not material to the jury's verdict, we affirm.

         Background

         Appellant did not appeal her conviction. But after appellant was convicted, Andrea Gooden, an analyst from the Houston Police Department crime lab who testified in appellant's trial, self-reported that the crime lab had violated quality control and documentation protocols. This report culminated in an investigation and report by the Texas Forensic Science Commission that was provided to appellant after her conviction.

         I. Evidence Adduced at Trial

         Deputy Bounds was conducting a traffic stop in Harris County, Texas, when he observed appellant driving in excess of the speed limit in the lane closest to Bounds's stopped patrol car and the other stopped vehicle. Appellant made several unsafe lane changes without signaling that caused other drivers to brake suddenly. Bounds got into his vehicle and pursued appellant until she stopped her vehicle.

         While conducting the stop, Bounds asked appellant to step out of her vehicle. When she did so, she staggered. Appellant told Bounds she was coming from a golf course at a country club but did not know the name or location of the country club. Appellant told Bounds she had consumed three beers that day. She also had an empty can of beer and two cold, unopened cans of beer in her car.

         Bounds testified that appellant appeared intoxicated, smelled of alcohol, had red, glassy eyes and incoherent, slurred speech, and appeared confused. Appellant said she had taken medication but was unable to tell Bounds what kind of medication it was.

         Bounds requested another deputy to assist him. Deputy Francis arrived and administered field sobriety tests. Bounds testified that he observed appellant exhibit five out of eight clues of intoxication on the walk and turn test and four out of four clues on the one leg stand test.[2] Bounds further testified that appellant had poor balance and staggered during the walk and turn test but conceded that Francis made some mistakes in administering the field sobriety tests. Bounds opined that appellant was intoxicated.

         Gooden testified that her analysis of appellant's blood sample revealed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.193, which is above the legal limit of 0.08.

         The prosecutor argued during closing argument that the blood analysis was "really important" because 0.193 is "multiple times" the legal limit and that "[i]t is pretty much undisputed that Deputy Bounds is not good at testifying. In fact, he's probably not a very good officer" and "[e]ven someone as simple or dumb, however you want to call it, as Deputy Bounds, it was clear to him that she was intoxicated."

         The jury found that appellant's BAC was above 0.15.

         II. Evidence Adduced at Habeas Hearing

         Gooden had been removed from casework two weeks prior to trial because of her involvement with an erroneous lab report in another case. In that case, an officer had mislabeled vials containing blood specimens with the wrong suspect's name. Knowing about the error, Gooden analyzed the blood samples but initially set them aside until the officer could correct the mistake. Gooden also prepared a draft lab report and certified that it was accurate. The report, still containing the wrong suspect's name, erroneously was ...


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